Planning for recommencement of Assessments under the Australian Health Service Safety and Quality (AHSSQA) Scheme
Announcement from the Commission
Resumption of onsite assessments to the NSQHS Standards will occur from 26 October 2020. This follows the period from 25 March 2020 where requirements for accreditation to the National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) Standards for all health services was maintained and no assessments were commenced.
As the reintroduction of onsite assessments will take into consideration the lead-time for planning and preparation of assessments, all health service organisations will have an additional 12 months added to their current certificate expiration date.
The Commission has identified criteria for determining which health service organisations should be assessed first and those that will be assessed during subsequent rounds. On-site assessment will be based upon a risk based approach and will only take place in settings where there is a low risk of transmission of COVID-19.
Answers to frequently asked questions are below.
For further enquiries please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
FAQs - Assessments under the Australian Health Service Safety and Quality Accreditation (AHSSQA) Scheme in health service organisations with a low risk for COVID-19 transmission
When will assessments of health service organisations resume?
From 26 October 2020, assessments can resume for health service organisations with a low risk of COVID-19 transmission. Assessments will not be conducted in organisations where there are active COVID-19 clusters or state or territory restrictions or lockdowns. Restrictions on border crossings will also be taken into consideration.
Your accrediting agencies will work with you, the Commission and the relevant health department to confirm the organisations risk status, and schedule the next assessment.
How do I know when my next assessment should be?
Health service organisations will have 12 months added to their current accreditation expiry date. This means whatever month and year your current accreditation is due to expire, it will now expire in that month, one year later.
Your assessment should be scheduled with your accrediting agency to commence at least 4 months before your revised accreditation expires.
How do I know if my health service organisation is considered low risk?
A health service organisation is low risk if it meets four or more of the following criteria:
- Is not treating patients with active COVID-19
- Is not treating overseas or interstate travellers during their quarantine period
- Does not have (or does not suspect they have) a member of the workforce with COVID-19 which could have been transmitted to others in the organisation
- There is limited impact on the normal workforce being available for duty. Members of the workforce are not
- In isolation due to possible or confirmed COVID-19 contact
- Redeployed to support COVID-19 related activities within or across health service organisations
- The health service organisation is not directly affected by
- A public order that has resulted in a lockdown or restriction of movement of citizens
- Known active COVID-19 infections in the area
- The organisation is not supporting an aged care facility with active COVID-19 infections.
These risk criteria are provided as a guide and emerging and real circumstances of each service will be considered in real time when determining if a health service organisation is low risk and an assessment can proceed.
What happens if my organisation is not low risk?
An organisation that is not low risk of transmission of COVID-19, according to this definition, will have its accreditation maintained. The assessment will not be scheduled until the circumstances are considered low risk.
What happens if the risk level of my organisation changes during the remediation period before the final assessment?
Organisations will not be disadvantaged because of COVID, if the risk level of an organisation changes and a final assessment cannot be rescheduled, the remediation period will be extended until the risk has reduced. The Commission will work with regulators, accrediting agencies and health service organisation to identify and manage instances where a review of the remediation period may be required.
When will my health service organisation be assessed?
When scheduling assessments, the Commission has asked accrediting agencies to prioritise:
- Organisations that have completed an initial assessment and are awaiting a final assessment to address any actions that were not met and required remediation
- Organisations that were previously scheduled for assessments from March 2020 and have not yet been assessed.
Your assessment should be scheduled at least four months before the revised accreditation expiry date.
What if I have completed an interim assessment?
Organisations that have completed an interim assessment when operations were first commenced, are required to complete a full assessment to the NSQHS Standards within an 18 month period. This requirement is unchanged for organisations that are assessed as low risk for the transmission of COVID-19.
However, if an organisation that has undertaken an interim assessment is not a low risk health service, interim accreditation will be maintained until an onsite assessment can be conducted.
Will assessments be onsite, as they were before COVID-19?
It is preferable for assessments to be conducted using an assessment model with all assessors on site. However assessments can be conducted using a hybrid assessment methodology where some assessors are on site, and others review the organisation using videoconferencing technologies from a remote location.
Hybrid assessments can occur when assessors are unavailable to be onsite due to:
- Travel or border restrictions
- Locally available assessors.
In these cases, assessments that involve both onsite and remote assessors may be scheduled. However, 50% or more of the assessment team should be onsite.
What is being done to ensure onsite assessments are conducted safety?
The Commission has been working with accrediting agencies to ensure onsite assessments are as safe as possible for patients, the workforce and assessors. To this end, before entering your organisation, assessors will have:
- Completed additional infection prevention and control training
- Passed a screening checklist to ensure they have no signs or symptoms of a respiratory infection
Onsite assessors are also required to comply with any screening requirements put in place by the organisation they are visiting.
Will my organisation get a new certificate with the revised expiration date?
Health service organisations accredited to the NSQHS Standards will have an additional 12 months added to their current expiry date. This administrative action will be performed by the Commission and accrediting agencies, amended certificates will not be issued. Health service organisation could however seek a statement from their accrediting agency providing the same detail as that on a certificate if requested from their accrediting agency.
Where can I go for further advice?
Enquiries please email the Advice Centre: email@example.com or contact your accrediting agency.
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